When James Dondero made Dallas, Texas, his home in 1994, he committed to giving back to the community through charitable contributions. In fact, from the start, he made community support a high priority for both him and his businesses and strove to be an influential and positive force throughout his newly adopted city.
Over the years, Mr. Dondero has focused on initiatives in education, conservation, veterans’ affairs, community and economic development, and more. He has applied the same creative and driven approach that earned him success in his business endeavors to his philanthropic efforts. Mr. Dondero takes the time and effort to choose organizations that will have the biggest impacts on the community and the initiatives that will best support those organizations. Mr. Dondero explains his philosophy of giving in a Medium article, “…we invest in the community by supporting organizations that are advancing the Dallas area in unique, influential ways.”
While Mr. Dondero considers the impact the organization itself can have on its individual cause, he also considers the effects of his giving on a larger scale, looking for ways that the organizations can work together to maximize their reach in Dallas.
Southern Methodist University
James Dondero’s support of Southern Methodist University (SMU) began approximately a decade ago. Through his company, he made a $2 million endowment gift to the university to create the Endowed Tower Scholars Program Fund. The NexPoint Tower Scholars Program and multidisciplinary minor in Public Policy and International Affairs are highly selective and invitation only. The NexPoint Tower Scholars Program allows students to combine their academic interests with real-world experiences to shape their understanding and education on public policy. A small group of sophomores from SMU are chosen each year for the program, which remains under SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Those admitted to the program receive study-abroad and senior-year internship opportunities, as well as exposure to public policymaking and global leaders.
“Transformative education initiatives are a key focus of our philanthropy,” said James Dondero. “We have deep respect for the role that Southern Methodist University plays in the community. This program offers students extraordinary opportunities to interact with global and national leaders, influential policymakers, and top employers that call Dallas home.”
Aside from his gift to the Tower Scholars Program and other generous donations, Mr. Dondero sits on the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business Executive Board as an Executive Board Member, a position he has held since November 2016.
Learn more about Southern Methodist University, including its educational opportunities for students.
Dallas Hall on the campus of Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
“We have deep respect for the role that Southern Methodist University plays in the community. This program offers students extraordinary opportunities to interact with global and national leaders, influential policymakers, and top employers that call Dallas home.”
George W. Bush Presidential Center
The George W. Bush Presidential Center encompasses the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the George W. Bush Institute, the nonpartisan, public policy arm of the Bush Center. It is located on SMU’s campus, further showcasing Mr. Dondero’s drive to support organizations that can work together to improve the Dallas area.
The Center is a long-time beneficiary of James Dondero and has received more than $15 million in multi-year grants. Mr. Dondero currently serves on the Executive Advisory Council and has done so since 2018.
Mr. Dondero first partnered with the Center in 2012, contributing more than $5 million to fund the development of the Bush Center facilities. Since then, he and NexPoint have supported other initiatives, including a series of public programs called “Engage at the Bush Center.” This series brings newsmakers, thought leaders, and authors together to address important current issues.
“We are impressed by the Bush Center’s national influence and impact in our community,” said Mr. Dondero in an article. “Events like the Engage Series foster important dialogue regarding pressing policy issues.”
Visit the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s website to learn more about how the Center is shaping the community.
“We are impressed by the Bush Center’s national influence and impact in our community”
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science provides hands-on activities for children to learn more about science, math, and technology. This exciting and educational framework prompted Mr. Dondero to be among one of the first donors to the Perot Museum, helping to fund the construction of the building in 2012. He continues to donate to the museum, and his various business ventures have supported various exhibits. Currently, NexPoint is sponsoring the Science Behind Pixar exhibit. This interactive exhibit allows visitors to learn more about the work that artists and computer scientists do to bring Pixar films to life.
Discover more exhibits by visiting the Perot Museum of Nature and Science website.
Mr. Dondero is a long-time proponent of conservation efforts, making the Dallas Zoo an optimal organization to support. In 2017, Mr. Dondero made a $1 million donation to support the Dallas Zoo’s effort to raise $14 million for the new Simmons Hippo Outpost. The Outpost opened in April 2017 and features a 120,000-gallon pool and a 24 by 8-foot underwater viewing window. The exhibit is also home to the critically endangered okapi.
“The Zoo is exactly the kind of organization that we like to support and… [we’re] proud to assist them in bringing exceptional educational opportunities and experiences like the hippo exhibit to Dallas,” Mr. Dondero said.
Since the opening of the exhibit, several hippo calves have been born, helping to increase the population of this vulnerable animal.
Learn more about the Dallas Zoo and how they are educating the Dallas community.
The Family Place
The Family Place has been committed to helping victims of family violence in North Texas since 1978. It provides necessary resources, including shelter, counseling, and education, as survivors navigate the next steps in their lives. Over the years, Mr. Dondero has provided numerous grants to The Family Place. He led a $1 million grant challenge, through which his business “adopted” hundreds of families during the holiday season and supported them with gift cards so they could choose their own gifts.
He also provided a specific donation to host a Mother’s Day event for residents of The Family Place’s emergency shelter at the Dallas Zoo. Mr. Dondero has been honored by the organization for his generosity and was named an Honorary Chair of The Family Place during past events.
Visit The Family Place website to learn more about how they help victims of family violence.
Support For Other Organizations
James Dondero’s commitment to supporting organizations within the Dallas community goes beyond those highlighted above. Over the years, Mr. Dondero has also provided charitable giving or lent his support to the following organizations: